LGBT Students: Know Your Rights!

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students often face discrimination and harassment in their schools. Unfortunately, many school officials are unfamiliar with what the law requires them to do to protect LGBT students. That’s why it’s so important for you to educate yourself about your legal rights and what you can do if your school isn’t treating you fairly!

Anti-gay harassment is one of the most pervasive, frightening, and potentially damaging threats LGBT students face in our public schools. If you’re being bullied, called names, threatened, or physically harmed at your school because of your sexual orientation, you don’t have to take it! Public schools are required under federal law to remedy the abuse of lesbian and gay students.

The most important thing for you to do if anyone at school is harassing you is to report it to your principal or counselor. If the school doesn’t do anything to protect you, then it has been put on notice and can be held legally responsible. Keep a record of each time you were harassed – what happened, when it happened, who was involved, and to whom you reported it.

If you’ve reported harassment to your school and they’ve done little or nothing to stop it, you should contact /category/request-legal-assistance/”>us, your local ACLU affiliate or the

If your school is trying to keep you from talking about your sexual orientation or expressing your beliefs about it, you should contact the /category/request-legal-assistance/”>ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties or the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project.

What else?
If you ever suspect that your school is treating you wrong because of your sexual orientation or gender identity:

    • Be respectful and follow the rules! Don’t give your school any excuses for treating you badly by behaving badly or losing your temper.


    • Document everything! Keep thorough notes about what happened, with dates, names, and any other details that might come in handy. If the school gives you anything in writing or if you submit anything in writing yourself, keep copies.


    • Get support! There are groups all over the country for LGBT youth, and if you live somewhere that doesn’t have one, you can probably find an online discussion forum where you can be yourself and get reassurance that you’re not alone.


  • Don’t just believe what your school tells you! A lot of the time, school officials either don’t know what the law requires them to do or just figure you won’t question what they say. Find out what your rights under the law are!